These are comments that we’re used to hearing in a professional sports context, not the writing world. But why? There are enough parallels to justify a similar model:
- Talent is at a premium
- Talent needs to be grown over time
- Successful investment in talent will benefit a larger group (e.g. company, ownership, team, etc.)
- There is an inherent risk related to potential vs. actual performance
- There is a huge pool of talent nationwide, even worldwide
- Dedication to the craft (practice) yields better performance
Why is a writer expected to have completed a marketable, viable – successful – product BEFORE being embraced by the publishing community? Isn’t that equivalent to a baseball team handing an owner a championship trophy BEFORE they get signed to the major league team?
Picture this and tell me if it makes ANY sense at all:
[Enter C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera stage left into a spectacularly endowed executive suite where Hank Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are lounging, feet up on desk, smoking thick Cuban cigars. A nerdy looking little guy in black, horn-rimmed glasses with eyes that are way too close together sits nervously nearby, pen in hand, notebook at the ready.
Date is November 6th, 2009. Time is 11:48 AM]
Derek: We are from a local baseball team and recently won the baseball championship referred to as the World Series.
Hank: Heard of it. I recall watching the first 30 minutes of Game 1 last week that was sent to me by my assistant.
Mo: Great! What did you think?
Cashman: We’d be happy to take that trophy off your hands.
Hank [snaps fingers]: Arnold!
[Nerdy guy jumps to attention]
Hank: Go draft a contract for these guys. Work in 10% royalties and a promise for 5 more trophies over the next 5 years.
No, I don’t think so. But I mean really…is reality for a writer any different? A successful and lucky writer, that is. It would never be acceptable from a professional player’s perspective. (That’s because they have unions that stand up for players’ rights and have carefully negotiated these rights with great difficulty through the decades. I get that. And I’m no union guy or even one that really gets unions from a motivated individual’s point of view. I’m probably sliding into a very slippery slope here and I don’t want to go there. So I won’t.)
For now, I will focus on my simple scenario and offer MYSELF as a willing sacrifice to the gods of the new model.
Let’s say I’m the new talent-rich guy that just graduated college where I hit .423 with 35 HRs and had 107 RBI in 90 games. My OBP is astronomical because I’ve got a great eye and blazing speed. My tools in the field are nothing to sneeze at either. I’m a clean-cut, good-looking guy with incredible marketing potential.
What major league team wouldn’t jump at me, take me under their wing to realize my potential as a possible future Hall of Famer and role model to young, vulnerable children, all the while looking like brilliant businessmen with their finger on the pulse of all that is cool and hip?
An even better question is what team owner would have me waste my time working in IT for a pharmaceutical company rather than honing my swing in the cage and strengthening my arm long tossing all day, every day? How would any owner expect me to achieve my potential and win them a World Series trophy by attending technology conferences and formulating risk responses and mitigation plans in case a clinical master data model fails to reap those exciting benefits of information synergization? (Who even makes up words like “synergization” ?!)
Answer: They NEVER would !!
So I am putting myself out on the block and announcing to all publishing companies, agents and well-connected professionals of the writing industry:
FOR AN ANNUAL SALARY OF $150K, I will work for you all day, every day to bring you that coveted World Series trophy, er, best-selling novel. You can offer your knowledge, your vast experience and ensure the continuity of this illustrious industry by passing on the baton of genius to the next generation.
TRUST me. Look at my lineage, my potential, my crazy mindset that even dares to bring something this outrageous and creative to the prestigious industry of ideas on paper.
Plus, $150K is WELL below the major league minimum salary and a true bargain.
Fine print: of course after my first runner-up finish in the MVP awards, I’ll threaten to walk out unless my contract is renegotiated. At that point, screw the team – it’s all about me. But that’s not important now.
Yes, Writers Unite! This is our future!!!
Pass this on, forward the message to all of your writer friends. Let’s start this movement from the grassroots by uniting in vision and strategy…oh, and by allowing me to quit my day job and dedicate my life to writing.